Early morning in Naperville

The Christmas celebrations are over and I am supposed to be getting the house ready for the arrival of Benjamin and Ruby later today. They are coming to stay while their parents go into Chicago for their wedding anniversary weekend. (I had a temporary brain freeze when Sheila, the best grandma ever, was here and offered to have them…)

I am easily distracted from my chores. Here is the sunrise out of the kitchen window.

DSC06522 I am not the only one up early this morning.

DSC06540In fact there have been lots of visitors in the back yard.

DSC06553 The mist over the park needs a picture of its own.

DSC06557You’d think we lived out in the country. It’s amazing what a bit of cropping can do to a photograph!

I really should get to putting sheets on the beds but lest you think I have been neglecting my stitching, I am still sewing hexagons together…


I’m about two thirds through my box of basted shapes. Steve keeps asking me what I am making… what a great question!

AQS Quilt Week – Des Moines

A busy week! Who knew that working was meant to be so enjoyable? The internet connection at the hotel, while good, was not quite up to pain free blogging so please excuse this long post…

It’s just over 300 miles from my home to downtown Des Moines but I managed it all on my own, just NPR and the friendly Garmin lady for company:) A friendly valet fitted all five suitcases, thread stand and my quilt rack on to one luggage cart and I checked in and made my way up to the 29th floor of the Marriot. It took me a few tries to figure out the TV remote but I soon made myself at home and snoozed through the evening’s offerings! And that was Monday.

On Tuesday I was due at the Hy Vee Events Center at one o’clock to be a judge for the Modern Quilt Challenge and decided to take the skywalk over there. Eight and a half blocks later (all up hill) I was early  but I soon spotted Jacquie Gering, also early and ready for the judging and we sat down for a catch up. Oops! We had to be “fetched” when we didn’t notice the time… Bill Kerr was ready and waiting and we joined him for our instructions and set to work.

I hope you like what we did. There are no double ribbons at AQS shows (each quilt cannot win in more that one category) so that might explain some decisions. It was a very interesting experience as we talked about each quilt and came up with our choice. You can see the winners’ list and a picture of the “Best in Show” over at the AQS Modern Quilt Challenge page. I know there will be more pictures to come.


The show opened on Wednesday morning and I was able to spend a few hours looking around and enjoying the rest of the quilts on display. Here’s an overview of the vendors from the walkway up above.

DSC05591 In the evening we had the All-Star Review, as seen on the notice board pictured below.

DSC05739There were nine teachers each presenting their subject for 10 minutes each. I was showing Traditional Stitches of African Folklore Embroidery. With a camera man to project close-ups on a screen it was a lot of fun, especially when my double sided interweaving didn’t go exactly to plan the first time around!

We were able to set up a table to vend afterwards and I met lots of interested quilters. I gave out business cards so I hope I will meet some of them again.

I didn’t have any obligations on Thursday so I returned to the show floor to have another look at the quilts and to practice on the Juki machine that would be in Saturday’s classroom. I also moved some of the stuff around in my suitcases to be ready for Friday.

It doesn’t sound like I was busy at all does it? Not to worry, things soon got busier…

On Friday I followed the signs.

DSC05741This was the sign outside my classroom.

DSC05709Do you think the wrestlers would like my classes? Or perhaps someone thought my students would be interested in wrestling?

I started the day with Beginning English Paper Piecing. The ladies set to work and stitched busily away.

DSC05708This student really wanted to see what she was doing (note two sets of glasses).

DSC05704These two enjoyed their time together.

DSC05706 Three hours went so fast and it was time to move on. Everyone went away with their projects well underway. I hope it was the start of some great new quilts!


After a short break I was ready to set up the class room for Beading on Fabric.

DSC05712Some people bought the kit and some had brought their own little quilts to work on. We covered lots of different stitches and I was able to take some good pictures…

DSC05717   DSC05721

DSC05725   DSC05726

There are going to be some lovely embellished quilts in those ladies futures.

“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” and you know those quiltie teachers are not a dull bunch… so it was time for a little play in the evening. We took the hotel shuttle to Fong’s Pizza but the wait was over an hour so we ended up over the road at the Royal Mile, an “English” pub.

Here we are after our dinner and a few drinks…

DSC05734 Left to right there’s Mary Lou Weidman, Peggy Martin, Sally Terry (my roomie), Anita Grossman Solomon peering from behind, Jan Krentz, Deb Karasik, Barb Vlack, Martha DeLeonardis and me!! Certainly not dull…


Up again, early, if not bright, there were more signs to follow to my You Too Can Free Motion Quilt class.

DSC05743 I was next to Jan Krentz’s Diamond Quilt classroom.

DSC05738It didn’t take too long to get ready and then I just had to wait for the students to arrive.

DSC05746 I had downloaded a Sketchbook app and drew the stitch designs on my iPad so that they could be seen on the screen behind me. (so hi-tec?!!)

DSC05754Then I stitched them out to show they really could be done…

DSC05767The students went back to their places and tried the design on paper,

DSC05750 before stitching on the machine.

DSC05751It was the first free motion class for about half the class and they did great work. The class description said students would be ready to go home and practice and I think they were!

I took my bags back to the hotel on the shuttle but I just wanted to return to the show floor and take a last look at one particular group of quilts, the Caohagan Quilts from the little island of Caohagen in the Philippines.

I walked the skywalk again and made my way to the exhibit. I took lots of pictures and then spotted Anita looking through a catalog. I hadn’t realized I could buy one! Well, to cut a long story short this one is coming to my house this week…


Every time I think about it it makes me smile. I am hoping that Benjamin and Ruby are going to have a fine old time finding all the different creatures… me too!

The skywalk wasn’t any shorter on the way back to the hotel so I had a snooze before a final dinner with some of my new friends at the ChopHouse.

Here I am with Peggy, Jan, Barb and Anita before our dinner arrived.

DSC05826It was an excellent meal! I learnt so much from these kind ladies. They are so generous with their knowledge and experience. I can only hope to be like them when I grow up.

And there we are! Sunday I loaded up the car and headed east… Four and three quarter hours later I was home. We had Chinese for dinner. This morning I have been doing the laundry. This afternoon I need to unpack my class bags and I’ll be ready to stitch.

When can I do it all again? Please?

Modern hexagons?

I’ve been working on my hexagons again recently and I got the last lot appliquéd down by Saturday evening. I was given the Japanese pre-cuts which I basted to 3/4″ paper templates from Paper Pieces. I tried to make a balanced composition on the ecru linen background…

DSC05259I cut out the base fabric from the back so I could remove the papers,

DSC05261before layering, basting and quilting with straight lines. Then I squared it up and added the little red stripe before binding with an ecru cotton…

DSC05282Here’s a close-up of one of the corners. The quilting was mostly in a matching cotton thread but I added six lines of a heavier Valdani variegated thread for a little bit of extra interest.


So, English Paper Piecing is a traditional technique but I think my asymmetrical design, plentiful negative space and quilting style earn my little quilt the right to be labelled as Modern Traditionalism?

I have 120 hexagons ready basted for my next piece… There is a reason for all this hand stitching. All will be revealed in a few weeks!

Saturday sewing

Last time we saw this quilt it looked something like this…

DSC00140Minimal quilting officially meant one of last year’s Quilter and Child quilts was done but it was still in my “needs quilting” pile.

Today I am pleased to say its status has changed. I sat at the machine for a few hours this morning and now, with an off center spiral surrounded by straight lines, it is definitely finished.

DSC04920I washed it to give it that nice crinkly look. May be it will go in John and Joanne’s new orange room?



Now it’s back to English Paper Piecing and my hexagons…


These ones are 3/4″ in Japanese fabrics. I’m hand stitching them onto a linen background  for a bit of Modern Traditionalism. My design is very asymmetrical and there will be lots of negative space.  Not a project to be rushed…

The circle of life?

Last week started with me starting to stitch a little hexie piece for the next Naperville Modern Quilt Guild challenge. I was using the 3/4″ hexagon papers from Paper Pieces and things were going well, other than the little Diet Doctor Pepper spill… DSC03404I think it will wash off?

But a couple of phone calls later and my plans for the week had changed…

I made a little sample for a three hour Intro to English Paper Piecing,

DSC03461and quilted it,

DSC03466and set to work on a Modern quilt sampler

DSC03403But then I was interrupted …

By two very welcome visitors…

We went to the park where the see-saw called their names,

DSC03459and then there was the the climbing frame…

DSC03456 Ruby wasn’t for being left behind. She got to the third rung before needing to be rescued…

DSC03457 Fun!

Monday soon came around again and it was back to the sewing machine.

I finished the sampler… My favorite Michael Miller Cotton Couture grey with the pinks I bought at Gentler Times when they had 25% off for Valentine’s Day…

DSC03481DSC03493and made a You too can machine quilt sample, using 50 wt. Aurifil thread for a great result.

DSC03499Those all made and photographed I moved on to a little Taking wool appliqué a step further piece. The Village Quilters in Wheaton will be working on it next week in a little lecture/demo I’m presenting. It’s not quite finished but here’s where I’m up to.

DSC03487I’m thinking the completed piece will make a nice little needle book cover. That’s why there’s the gap down the middle.

Here’s a close up of those embroidery stitches…

DSC03490So today I’ll be stitching on the teal circle and might be able to move on to the ever growing stack of pieced hexagon blocks.

DSC03503or maybe I’ll be back to those pink and green hexagons I started last week with?

I have also been researching Coconut Cakes for Sarah’s birthday at the weekend…